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They did not go out easy, but the two-time defending City League softball champion Clay Eagles were dethroned yesterday by No. 4 seed Whitmer, falling 4-3 in 11 innings in the league playoff semifinals at Scott Park.
Senior Amanda Temple led the Panthers at the plate, going 4-for-4 with a triple plus a
hit-by-pitch in five appearances, but it was sophomore pitcher Hayli Erdmann who came up with the big hit.
Erdmann delivered a two-out RBI double down the left-field line in the top of the 11th inning for what proved to be the winning run. She then hurled a scoreless bottom half to send her team to today's CL championship game.
The Panthers (15-9) will face third-seeded St. Ursula (21-4) at 3 p.m. at Scott Park.
The Arrows advanced with a 5-2 win over second-seeded Notre Dame in the other
Top-seeded Clay (21-4) jumped ahead 1-0 with an
unearned run off Erdmann in the opening inning, and the Eagles (16-8) managed nothing more until facing elimination for the first time, down 2-1 with one out in the bottom of the seventh.
But Haley Thompson reached on Temple's fielding error at third, advanced on
Jessica Achter's sacrifice bunt, and scored the second
unearned run off Erdmann when Panther second baseman Jessi Woelfl threw wild to first on Erin Simon's grounder.
Temple had tripled and scored on Brandy Holmes' wild pitch in the fourth for Whitmer's first run, and catcher Staci Sumner put the Panthers up with a solo home run down the left-field line leading off the seventh.
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Whitmer took the lead again in the top of the ninth on Alexis Molik's two-out RBI single to right, but Clay stayed alive again with a run in the bottom half. Thompson singled, advanced on Achter's sacrifice, and scored on Simon's single to right.
"That's the type of team they are," Whitmer coach Mark
Figliomeni said of Clay's two rallies. "They're very opportunistic. But I can't say enough about this group of ours. We haven't had many good performances lately, and they just sucked it up and played like veterans."
The third time was the charm for Whitmer. Holmes opened the 11th by hitting Brittany McVicker with a pitch. Stephanie
Andrews followed with a one-out single, and pinch-runner Andrea Dickinson scored on Erdmann's double.
"The kids battled, they kept their heads up the entire time, and quite a few times we made big plays when we had runners in scoring position," Clay coach Brenda Radabuagh said. "But [Whitmer] got some key hits too, with runners in scoring position. Erdmann did a nice job throwing and they made the plays when they needed to."
In St. Ursula's victory, pitcher Alyssa Schultz's struck out 15 and allowed just four hits.
But shortstop and leadoff hitter Victoria Allen was the story for St. Ursula at the plate. She scored the Arrows' first and last runs, and in between drove in the other three with one big blow.
With two outs and a runner on first in the bottom of the sixth, Notre Dame pitcher Kristin Gramling walked two batters to load the bases.
Allen ripped an outside pitch, and the hit got up into the wind headed toward right. The ball hit the top of the fence and Allen had a three-run triple. She later scored on Kelsey Gilroy's single.
"I saw that [Gramling] had a lot of motion on it, so I got up in the box before it broke away from me," Allen said, "and I was able to go with it and take it to the opposite field.
"It's a lot of pressure [in that spot], but you've just got to put it in play and hope that they make a mistake. I thought [ND's Caitlyn Scott] was going to catch it, but it really helped to have the wind take it away from her."
Allen doubled to right-center and scored St. Ursula's first run in the third inning.
"We had our chances all through the game and we just didn't come up with the big hit when we needed it," Arrows coach Frank Zalewski said. "We left seven runners on base. But we came through there in that [sixth] inning."
Notre Dame's Paige Gallaher singled and later scored on a Schultz wild pitch in the first inning, and Gramling followed teammate Michelle Holmes' triple with a single in the seventh for the Eagles' other run.
"It was a great game," Notre Dame coach Scott Snyder said. "Things fell off a little when we put a couple on with walks and brought up a good hitter for them. But we really battled hard."
Contact Steve Junga at:firstname.lastname@example.org or 419-724-6461